Dr. Jon Eckert, professor of Educational Leadership and the Lynda and Robert Copple Endowed Chair for Christians in School Leadership, received the Baylor Outstanding Faculty Award for Teaching for Tenured Faculty. Eckert completed his doctorate at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College, and then worked in both the Bush and Obama administrations on teaching quality issues. Before coming to Baylor in 2019, Eckert taught and coached intermediate and middle school students outside of Chicago and Nashville for 12 years and spent 10 years on the faculty of Wheaton College teaching education majors.
Eckert teaches Baylor students at all levels — undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral. He teaches undergraduates in Baylor’s Leadership Minor, master’s students in the MA in School Leadership program, and doctoral students pursuing degrees in K12 Educational Leadership — all programs in the Department of Educational Leadership.
As a teacher, Eckert intentionally develops community by meeting with students outside of class, praying for them, inviting students into his home, and leading with vulnerability. He has extensive experience teaching online and is able to develop community even in that challenging setting.
Eckert is program director and the creative force behind Baylor’s newly launched MA in School Leadership. Through the dual-track program, aspiring public school leaders may seek principal certification in Texas, and independent school leaders may pursue a different track. This hybrid-format program consists of two on-campus intensive summer sessions, along with online and asynchronous learning for remaining courses during the school year.
The MA launched in June of 2021, and the summer 2022 on-campus intensive saw a 100 percent retention of students. After Eckert taught the initial course last year, all 27 students responded to an anonymous questionnaire with rave reviews. In the initial cohort, 81 percent of students described the launch of the master’s programs as “the most effective professional learning experience” they have ever had. On the course evaluation, one of the master’s students wrote, “Dr. Eckert is the best teacher I have ever had. He made the content so engaging and practical. He demonstrated a real love for each of us students and made it a safe place to learn and grow.” This week, 57 MA students from both cohorts were on campus for their intensive classes.
Eckert is also the program director for the Leadership Minor, which Baylor undergraduates of all majors may pursue through the Department of Educational Leadership, and it attracts several hundred students of diverse backgrounds. One student who did not profess to be Christian wrote to Eckert, “You have impacted my life more than you can fathom. You have shown an interest in my life more than any adult has, which is often who I need support from most. You have become someone I look up to, and who I would go to for mentorship. Thank you for being constantly kind in an unkind world.”
Eckert is also the faculty lead for the Baylor Center for School Leadership, which exists to equip Christians for collective leadership that catalyzes excellence in faith-based, independent, and public schools. Through the Center’s many programs, Eckert teaches seminars and workshops for professional educators ranging from classroom teachers to school leadership.
School of Education dean Dr. Shanna Hagan-Burke said Eckert’s teaching contributions are “profound.” She noted that his teaching benefits countless Baylor students as well as professional educators across the nation. “Dr. Eckert truly exemplifies the type of scholar Baylor seeks to honor through this award.”
A productive research scholar, Eckert has written two books, numerous articles, and presented white papers on Capitol Hill and at the National Press Club; he is currently working on four new books. One of his books was named the top new release in the Educational Research category on Amazon at one point. He has also been invited to present all over the U.S. and as far away as Muscat, Oman, at a G8-Broader Middle East Summit for education ministers. His scholarly work focuses on school improvement through collective leadership of teachers and administrators, strategic compensation, and teaching quality.
Eckert said, “I am so grateful for this honor and even more grateful to serve at a Christian Research 1 university where I can implicitly and explicitly share my faith with students as we become all that God created us to be for His glory. Students have always been the biggest blessing in my work, and I am so thankful for the students I serve here at Baylor.”
Dr. Herb Cox, assistant clinical professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, said Eckert became his main contact and mentor when he joined the faculty after a career as a school principal. “Without his guidance, I cannot imagine how I would have survived my first year at Baylor. He has taught me many things about the world of higher education,” he said. “I have so much respect for how Dr. Eckert conducts his classes, but I have an even deeper appreciation for the mentorship, guidance, and leadership that he exhibits. He truly personifies our hashtags of ‘Be The Light’ and ‘Baylor Leads.’ I am forever grateful for his friendship.”
Eckert is one of three School of Education faculty members to receive one of the six outstanding faculty designations awarded yearly by the University. Dr. Jessika Akers, assistant professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, was recognized with an Outstanding Teaching Award for tenure-track faculty, and Dr. Tonya Davis, professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, received an Outstanding Teaching Award for tenured faculty.
—By Gracie Ozburn
Baylor’s School of Education celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2019. With more than 60 full-time faculty members, the school’s growing research portfolio complements its long-standing commitment to excellence in teaching and student mentoring. The school boasts a variety of academic program options across its three departments: Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Leadership, and Educational Psychology. Baylor’s award-winning undergraduate program in teacher education serves approximately 400 students and has earned national distinction for innovative partnerships with local schools that provide future teachers with extensive clinical preparation.
More than 700 graduate students pursue advanced study and professional preparation in master’s, Ed.S., Ed.D., and Ph.D. programs. With exciting new academic initiatives both at home and abroad, the school is in a period of significant expansion and is poised for greater impact through the production of meaningful, high-quality research and the preparation of outstanding leaders, teachers, and clinicians. Visit www.baylor.edu/SOE to learn more.
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.